Search Blog:

« CVBBS: The CVBBS Blog

REVIEW OF LEWIS ALLEN & TIM CHESTER'S "THE GLORY OF GRACE"

03/08/2019

REVIEW OF LEWIS ALLEN & TIM CHESTER’S
THE GLORY OF GRACE
(An Introduction to the Puritans in Their Own Words)
Banner of Truth Trust; 167 pp.

Out of obscurity and scorn the Puritans have become much better known and represented in the past 35 years. Men like J. I. Packer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever have promoted their lives, their theology, and their works as well as having begun to scrape off the mud from their legacies that their opponents heaped upon them. Victors write the histories of wars and theological victors write the church histories too often that negatively impacts how the losers are read. (E.g. For much of his life the early church father Athanasius was exiled for his tenacious holding to the deity of Christ against the heretic Arius because Arius had more friends in high places.
Subsequent biblical and systematic study proved Athanasius right and Arius tragically wrong.)

Now two pastors have given us a 11 course meal of Puritan delights. How can I say that? Well the book has 11 chapters where 11 different Puritans are allowed to speak for themselves and their precious take on theology and Christianity is brought into the open.

As J. I. Packer and others have said, Puritans are strong where contemporary Christianity is weak. They are full-orbed while too many of us ride hobby horses. Their religion covers all of life, not just my subjective experience of the Christian life. They were thorough where we are shallow. They aim for the head and the heart while we frequently miss both. Look at the list below and see good things to come:

1. Richard Sibbes on ASSURANCE
2. Thomas Goodwin on THE HOLY SPIIRT
3. Samuel Rutherford on COVENANT CONFIDENCE
4. William Bridge on SUFFERING
5. Jeremiah Burroughs on CONTENTMENT
6. Anne Bradstreet on LOSS
7. John Owen on COMMUNION WITH GOD
8. Richard Baxter on EVERYDAY DISCIPLESHIP
9. John Bunyan on FAITH
10. John Flavel on PROVIDENCE
11. Thomas Boston on THE BIBLE

Treat yourself to the beginning of a banquet that could go on the rest of your life. If you become a reader of the Puritans, you may well come to know their God and Savior as they did and you will be much the richer.

If you are new to reading theology or biblical studies or just want to know what all the fuss is about the Puritans, then this is the book for you.

Steve Martin
Dean of Students
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS













Posted: 05:16:00 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF ANDREW RANDALL'S "FOLLOWING JESUS"

REVIEW OF ANDREW RANDALL,
FOLLOWING JESUS
(The Essentials of Christian Discipleship)
Banner of Truth Trust; 231 pp.


For the first ten years after graduation from college I worked with students in California, Indiana and Georgia. After seminary I worked with laymen for 31 years in the local pastorate. At all times I was seeking to disciple men. I had small group studies and early morning study groups for men before they went to work. What do I mean by using that word, disciple? Well a disciple in the New Testament was a follower and learner of Jesus. Our Lord, like John the Baptist, had men who followed Him and learned from Him. His final word of teaching in Matthew 28:19-20 was a commission given to the disciples (and the churches they would help found) to go into all the world and make disciples (followers and learners of Jesus). These disciples were to preach the gospel, baptize the converts who were to identity with and follow Jesus, and teach them all things whatsoever Christ had taught them. Wow, that is a big order! This portion of the New Testament has come to be called “the Great Commission”. Our Lord would then go on to tell these twelve disciples that they were to wait until they were clothed with power from on high. Once the Holy Spirit had been poured out, the movement to fulfill
the Great Commission had begun.

This book by pastor Andrew Randall from Scotland is a primer on following Jesus as a faithful disciple. And it is a primer on making disciples. Pastor Randall is no hot-house plant. He has lived and worked as a layman for several years before entering the Christian ministry studying law at university and practicing as a lawyer. God called him into the gospel ministry to be a pastor. Pastors are shepherds whose job it is to nurture and protect the flock. Where is good food for the sheep? Where is clean water for the sheep? Pastor Randall as a faithful pastor/shepherd is making disciples as every good pastor should. What kinds of things does a young or new or “needing a refresher” disciple need? This book fits the bill. Here's the Table of Contents:

1. FOLLOWING JESUS AT HIS CALL—The Essential of Faith--Mark 1:14-21

2. FOLLOWING JESUS BY THE BOOK—The Essentials of the Bible—2nd Timothy 3:10—4:5

3. FOLLOWING JESUS IN COMMUNITY—The Essentials of Church—Ephesians 2:11-22

4. FOLLOWING JESUS IN CONVERSATION—The Essentials of Prayer—Philippians 4:6

5. FOLLOWING JESUS BY HIS POWER—The Essentials of the Holy Spirit—John 16:1-15

6. FOLLOWING JESUS IN EVERYTHING—The Essentials of Holiness—1st Peter 1:13-25

7. FOLLOWING JESUS MORE AND MORE—The Essentials of Growth—Ephesians 4:11-24

8. FOLLOWING JESUS IN OUR CHOICES—The Essentials of Guidance—1st Thessalonians
5:16-22 and Romans 12:1-3

9. FOLLOWING JESUS IN OUR LOVE FOR OTHERS—The Essentials of Relationships-- 1st Corinthians 6:9—7:5

10. FOLLOWING JESUS THROUGH THE GENERATIONS—The Essentials of Parenting Ephesians 6:1-4

11. FOLLOWING JESUS IN HIS WORLD—The Essentials of Evangelism—1st Cor. 9:12-23

12. FOLLOWING JESUS EVERY DAY—The Essentials of Work—Ephesians 6:5-9

13. FOLLOWING JESUS WITH ALL WE HAVE—The Essentials of Stewardship—1st Tim. 6:6-19

14. FOLLOWING JESUS WHEN IT HURTS—The Essentials of Suffering—1st Peter 1:3-12

15. FOLLOWING JESUS ALWAYS—The Essentials of Perseverance—Romans 8:28-39 and 2nd Peter 1:1-15

APPENDIX 1—Marriage—What’s Faith Got to Do With It?

APPENDIX 2—Suffering—Where is God When It Hurts?

APPENDIX 3—Recommendations for further reading

If I were leading a group of men or just one man, I would take him through this great primer. I would take probably two weeks per chapter to make sure the material stuck. And I would thank God that such a good tool was available.

Steve Martin
31 years a pastor in Atlanta;
10 years a parachurch worker in California, Indiana &
Georgia
Dean of Students; IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
IN TEXAS


Posted: 05:13:56 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF "HELP FOR THE NEW PASTOR"

REVIEW OF “HELP FOR THE NEW PASTOR”
(Practical Advice for Your First Year of Ministry)
by Charles Wingard; P & R Publishers; 200pp.

I have often said about a book that I wish I had come across it years earlier—all the while trusting that God’s providential superintendence of my life is always right. Well, this book I wish I had read back in my first year in ministry. Now that I am no longer pastoring but a Dean of Students, I am looking for great materials to put into the hands of our students. This new book by Charles Wingard is one book I definitely plan to give to each of our graduates.

Like many young pastors, I learned piecemeal. There was input from the Senior Pastor that I served under. And there were tidbits I gleaned from books I read. Biographies were usually helpful but could be misleading. Most biographical studies don’t tell us how the famous pastor or evangelist prepared his sermons, or prepared for the Lord’s Day, or led in worship,
or visited his flock, or administered the sacraments or counseled, or visited…well, you get the idea. But this book does tell us all kinds of good things about each of these topics. You don’t have to slavishly copy what he learned—no one wants merely a copy-cat ministry. But you can learn valuable lessons without making the mistakes usually made by first year ministers.

Do you know what to do when you visit someone in the hospital? Do you know what might be expected? How about weddings and funerals? These and several other areas of local ministry are handled in a succinct and yet very helpful way.

What kind of person makes good in the ministry? What is his life and lifestyle like? What are his habits and character? How does your local church duties connect with denominational responsibilities? Why are long pastorates important and how not to be a burnout or flame out?!

Should I get to teach a class on ministry to graduating seniors in seminary, this would be one of the required reads.

Steve Martin
31 years a pastor in Atlanta
Dean of Students
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS




Posted: 03:45:25 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF RICHARD GAMBLE'S "THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD", VOLUME 2

REVIEW OF RICHARD GAMBLE’S
THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD
VOLUME 2—THE FULL REVELATION OF GOD
P & R Publishing; 1100 pp.

Back in the day (1981 to be precise), British New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie published
a major study of the New Testament—NEW TESTAMENT THEOLOGY. It surprised many
because it was not like other men’s ways of organizing and laying out their understanding of New Testament theology. Guthrie did a thematic approach and followed it section by section, and even book by book through the New Testament. That book’s format caused it to get mixed reviews. Other scholars wanted a theology of each New Testament book/author and then the results compared and contrasted. I believe Richard Gamble’s second volume of this proposed three volume theology will suffer some of the same criticisms. Not because it is not very good or even profound at times, but because it looks and feels different.

Dr. Gamble is a world-class scholar of John Calvin and an accomplished New Testament professor. He writes for the church, not the academy, although the size of this hefty tome and myriad footnotes might tempt one to see it as an academic volume. That would be a mistake, I believe. What other systematic theology volumes cover the spiritual life of the minister, or
preaching in the power and authority of the Spirit?

HOW THE VOLUME IS LAID OUT:

PART 1—GOD’S REVELATION IN THE NT EPOCH
1. Methodological Prelude—Justification for the
Approach
2. Between the Testaments
3. NT Special Revelation
4. Theological Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels
and Book of Acts
5. Paul: Man, Missionary, Apologist and Pastor
6. Peter: Man and Theology
7. Theological Introduction to James, Jude and
Hebrews
8. John: Man and His Gospel and Epistles
9. Theological Introduction to Revelation

PART 2—GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS—GOD’S
REVELATION AND EXALTATION
10. God’s Continued Self-Revelation—The Doctrine
of God
11. The Revelation of Jesus Christ
12. Christ’s Exaltation
13. Christ’s Prophetic, Priestly and Kingly Offices

PART 3—GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS—A GREAT
SALVATION
14. God’s Gracious Atonement for Sinners
15. Atonement and Union with Christ
16. Application of the Atonement
17. Union with Christ, Anthropology and Eschatology
18. Union with Christ in Romans 6-7

PART 4—GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS—GOD CREATES
A PEOPLE
19. Christ’s People
20. Christ’s Church and Kingdom
21. Characteristics and Functions of the Church
22. Union with Christ and the Indicative and Imperative
23. Union with Christ and the Believer’s New Identity

PART 5—GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS—GOD’S PEOPLE
ENCOUNTER UNBELIEF
24. A Biblical ‘Philosophy of Life’
25. A Biblical Apologetic Method

I would recommend that a young to middle age minister take this book and read it slowly over
a year or two. Ask God for illumination and discernment as you read it. Don’t look at it as THE
SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY for all times but rather a humble, spiritually minded reminder of why you became a Christian and what you hope to do in the ministry. And pray that you see more and more of the glory of God for that was part of Dr. Gamble’s goal.

You can also use this volume as a Bible refresher course when you are teaching a book of the New Testament and want to see again how the book in question fits in with the biblical author’s other works and the whole New Testament canon. You won’t agree with everything In this volume but you will learn and grow and think and argue and be pricked to apply what you learn. Certainly those are good marks of a systematic theology for a growing minister or
layman.


Steve Martin
31 years a pastor in Atlanta
Dean of Students;
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS



Posted: 03:38:19 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF "THEOLOGICAL ENGLISH"

REVIEW OF “THEOLOGICAL ENGLISH”
(An Advanced ESL Text for Students of Theology)
by Pierce Taylor Hibbs with Megan Reiley
P & R Publishing; 364 pp. (8 ½ by 11 size)

America is a nation of immigrants (Native Americans excluded). As English becomes more and more THE language for advanced academic study around
the world, more and more theological students come from around the world to study in the seminaries and graduate schools of the USA. A cursory knowledge
of spoken English will not do however. One must be able to understand quite sophisticated information in order to progress in theological studies. Hence the
origins of this book. Pierce Taylor Hibbs, assisted by Megan Reiley, have put together a rare gem of pedagogy and theology. Here is help to grow in knowledge of the English language especially as it relates to questions of history, theology and philosophy. If English is not your mother tongue and you want to study theology or Christianity, this is the book for you!

As American students learning biblical languages soon learn, all languages have some principal things in common and some other things that are unique. Because students of English here in America do not know their own English grammar well they struggle at first with biblical Greek and its grammar (or Old Testament Hebrew). This book is laid out to give the non-native English speaker a gradual growth in learning the English language as it relates to the study of theology in general and Christianity in particular. (The reader is also encouraged to purchase and master Frank X. Braun’S incredibly helpful booklet, ENGLISH GRAMMAR FOR LANGUAGE STUDENTS; Wipf & Stock--first published by the University of Michigan over 50 years ago).

Step by step the authors teach the reader how English works as a language but also the basics of Christianity and its history as the teaching medium. Two birds are
killed with one stone! There are exercises and worksheets, graphic inserts and activity pages make this a most user-friendly volume. Foreign language students should thank Hibbs and Reiley for this outstanding help.

I highly recommend this volume and plan to use it with foreign language students seeking to matriculate in the theological seminary in which I serve.

Steve Martin
Dean of Students;
IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS

Posted: 03:32:48 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF "FOR THE LOVE OF DISCIPLINE"(When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-outs)

11/03/2018

FOR THE LOVE OF DISCIPLINE
(WHEN THE GOSPEL MEETS TANTRUMS
AND TIME OUTS)
BY SARA WALLACE; P & R PUBLISHING

I grew up in a loving home with discipline. I was converted just before reaching 21 and legal independence. I married a wonderful Christian woman and we began a family in a couple of years. Having children caused me to study God’s Word more closely on raising children—to the glory of God and to be happy, productive adults. I could recognize the Bible’s teaching that I had no power to give the supernatural “new birth” to my children—God alone must do that by His Holy Spirit. But I (and my wife) needed to be faithful in nurturing our children in the reverence
and instruction of the Lord. Knowing that we were to love and discipline (train) our children was not rocket science; it was clear and obvious to us from our upbringings and the Scriptures. But the devil is in the details Different stages of childhood meant different challenges. Prayer for wisdom was (or should have been) a daily practice.

Knowing that the home I grew up in was nominally Christian and moral, I also knew that my parents had not sought wisdom in God’s Word but replicated what they knew from growing up and living in middle class America. I realized that I needed to work at studying God’s Word and praying for wisdom as we went along in marriage and parenting. I studied marriage and being a husband and father and learned a ton. But child-rearing was like shooting at a moving target—it is always moving and changing. Just when you think you understand what to do, your children are at a new phase in life. The first generation of evangelical books on marriage and parenting were consulted with some real profit (James Dobson comes to mind). But then more theologically and biblically careful writers (I think of Tedd Tripp here) came along after my children were adults. I still read these authors with great profit and as a pastor recommended their books to everyone.

Now Sara Wallace has written a most helpful book showing parents (and grandparents who will humble themselves to still learn) how to do a better job of raising our children for their good and God’s glory. In 14 chapters she takes the reader through two major emphases: (1) how the gospel provides lasting motivation in times of discipline; and (2) the application of practical tools—how proper discipline really works itself out.

Mrs. Wallace has clear guidelines, great illustrations and is very practical. She has embraced the gospel or rather has been embraced by the gospel. Good biblical theology is never out of sight. I called her “Mrs. Wallace” because she does not write this out of her experience as a Christian woman and mother in isolation. Some of her best illustrations of putting the truth into
practice has her husband doing what fathers ought to do. Child rearing is a couples’ affair. Both husband and wife need to be faithfully and fully engaged if the job is to be done right.

I highly recommend this most helpful book on raising children to the glory of God and their good.

Steve Martin
31 years a pastor in Atlanta
Father of two children; now grown adults raising their own children
DEAN OF STUDENTS; IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS



Posted: 01:31:16 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF LOVING YOUR FRIEND THROUGH CANCER


LOVING YOUR FRIEND THROUGH CANCER
(Moving Beyond “I’m Sorry” to Meaningful Support)
By Marissa Henley; P & R Publications

This is the perfect book to put in the Church Library and every pastor should have a copy in his library. But it is not for everyone nor every Christian in a local church. Why? Well the subtitle says it all: Moving Beyond “I’m Sorry” to Meaningful Support. So often fellow Christians are not spiritually and emotionally prepared to help another believer struggle
with a life effecting illness that is not going away any time soon.

Cancer is a big boogeyman in our culture because it is so deadly and it takes more than a wan smile and a brief promise of prayer to truly be of any help. Some Christians coping with cancer do not expect much from their church friends who are busy coping with their own lives and set of problems. But sensitive souls are grieved when few if any seem to care or come along side to help. This book equips those who want to help but need guidance in thinking through what is needed, what is not helpful and where to begin. It would make an excellent Sunday School class or weekend seminar. In 250+ pages the author is comprehensive and careful to show all the various problems that come with a cancer diagnosis and how needs change over time.

The chapter titles are explicit:

1. WHEN CANCER STRIKES A FRIENDSHIP—facing your new assignment

2. CIRCLES—knowing your role as friend or acquaintance

3. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH—struggles you will face

4. WHEN RELIGIOUS PLATITUDES FAIL YOU—how to avoid saying the wrong thing

5. DIAGNOSIS—a stressful beginning

6. YOUR FRIEND IS A SICK PERSON—understanding physical needs

7. EVERYTHING THAT NEEDS TO GET DONE—tackling logistical needs

8. HEART—nurturing emotional needs

9. MIND—questions your friends is asking

10. SOUL—praying and understanding spiritual needs

11. WHEN HER HUSBAND, PARENT OR CHILD HAS CANCER—supporting a friend as she cares
for others

12. WHEN THERE’S NO CURE—supporting a friend through chronic or terminal illness

13. WHEN ITS NOT REALLY OVER—supporting a friend through survivorship

PRACTICAL SUPPORT RESOURCES—forms and readings for helping your friend

I hope this book has a long life and ministers to many cancer victims and their friends who use this tool. Thank you Marissa Henley for using your survivorship to write this book and help
so many.


Steve Martin
31 years a pastor in Atlanta
DEAN OF STUDENTS; IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS


Posted: 01:27:42 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF DEWEY ROBERTS NEW BIOGRAPHY OF SAMUEL DAVIES

11/01/2018

REVIEW OF DEWEY ROBERTS’ SAMUEL DAVIES:
APOSTLE TO VIRGINIA
SOLA FIDE PUBLICATIONS
(Forward by Geoff Thomas)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, arguably the greatest preacher in the English language in the 20th century thought that Samuel Davies was the greatest preacher America ever produced. Noted biographer and historian Iain Murray thought Davies a peerless preacher and leader in colonial America. At east ten partial biographies have been written about Davies but his name and life and accomplishments are still unknown to most evangelical and Reformed Christians and pastors. Dewey Roberts has remedied that problem with the first full scale biography and assessment of Davies life and ministry. Like Iain Murray and David Calhoun, Roberts has captured not only the details of who Samuel Davies was but what he was—the inner workings of the man and how God chose to use him for His glory.

I had discovered Davies through Iain Murray and Martyn Lloyd-Jones and then Soli Deo Gloria published His works in 3 volumes. It was a treasure trove of rich and experiential biblical preaching.

Not long after that I visited Colonial Williamsburg and noted in their bookstore that they had a DVD dedicated to Samuel Davies and his role in making Virginia an important colony. I bought it and took it home like a man who had found a treasure. I was amazed and not disappointed. What was amazing is that they noted his role in gaining freedom of religion is that officially Anglican colony and his targeted preaching to the slaves. There was a sample re-enactment of his preaching on the necessity of the new birth and how delightedly the slaves listened to him. The video also noted his emphasis upon Christian education and the invitation to become President of Princeton, to succeed Jonathan Edwards. He too was to live only a short time after taking office, dying at 38 years old, even a young age then.

Who should read this spiritual biography? First of all, Christians who are serious about God, His eternal purposes and the outworking of his purposes in history will find this an inspiring read. Second, ministers of the gospel who want to see how God used one man in history despite many obstacles will profit from this volume. Third, ministerial students will gain a vision of what they may become by the grace of God.

Samuel Davies was a man of God. He sought the Savior and sought to be useful to the Savior in
his lifetime. He fellowshipped with some of the other men of God of his day—Jonathan Edwards,
George Whitefield, Patrick Henry, John Gill and several other eminent servants of Christ. Read
this most important biography and then find a copy of his sermons on the Internet that you can
afford. Ask for God to bless the preaching of the Word of God today by faithful ministers. Pray
that God would raise up more men like Samuel Davies to take the gospel to the lost throughout
America. Seek to know the God who Samuel Davies knew so well.

Steve Martin
DEAN OF STUDENTS; IRBS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN TEXAS

Posted: 03:56:49 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


A CLASSIC STUDY OF ROMANS FOR HEAD AND HEART

REVIEW OF ROMANS BY J.V. FESKO
THE LECTIO CONTINUA EXPOSITORY COMMENTARY SERIES
REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS

THE LECTIO CONTINUA EXPOSITORY COMMENTARY SERIES is meant to fill a vacuum among commentaries on the Bible. The editors tell us what they are seeking to accomplish:

“The greatest need of the church today is the recovery of sound biblical preaching. We need
preaching that faithfully explains and applies the text, courageously confronts sin, and boldly
trumpets the sovereign majesty, law and gospel promises of God.”

REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS is to be congratulated for this new series seeking to capture the content and tone of the best of Bible preaching. Before he died in 2017, R. C. Sproul said that the greatest need of America was to understand who God is. And he then said that the greatest need of the American
churches was to know who God is. He believed both the nation and the churches to be woefully ignorant of the basic biblical teachings on the nature and purposes of the Triune God.

This new volume on Paul’s letter to the Romans by pastor-theologian John Fesko goes a along way in helping to meet this need. Dr. Fesko pastored in north Atlanta for a decade before he took up his current position of Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California. He knows God, God’s Word and people. These qualification are right for anyone seeking to open up the riches of Romans. As Romans has been the great book to spark conversions and spiritual awakenings (think here of Augustne in the 4th century, Luther and the Reformation in the 16th century, Wesley and the evangelical awakenings of the 18th century and many, many others along the way), may the Lord of the churches use this volume to spark spiritual renewal and awakenings at the beginning of the 21st century.

In his Preface Fesko explains that he is no Martyn Lloyd-Jones (who preached through Romans over 14 years and 14 volumes of printed sermons). That sermon series and the man behind it are justly famous. K
But Fesko did not try to be Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The concept behind the LECTIO CONTINUA series is to emulate the early church which often had the continuous reading of books of the Bible followed by a continuous preaching of these same Scriptures. Lloyd-Jones purposes in London in the 1950’s and 60’s was not that of Dr. Fesko or this series. As such it is much more user friendly to laymen as well as busy pastors.

In 50 chapters the entire book of Romans is preached, stopping to cover a verse or two of signal importance and sometimes (e.g. Romans 7) covering most or all of a chapter in one fell swoop. To laymen who want to learn the thought and experience the power of Romans, this is a great place to start. For busy pastors who want to learn the same things as well as learn how to preach biblical books like Romans, this book is a treasure. If I was starting out in the ministry again (I actually began in 1970), this book would have been one of my first and most referenced commentaries on Romans (or any biblical book). Tolle lege—“pick it up and read”. It will do you good. And pastors, preach Romans to your church !
Bible study leaders, buy and master this book as you study Romans. Unlike so many “devotional” works that are most sawdust with a few M & M’s thrown in, this book is deliciously prepared meat for the soul.
Laymen, pray for your soul and your church and savor this book as you read it—it’s that important.

Steve Martin
Dean of Students
IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 01:08:39 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


THE FOUNDATION OF A MODERN REFORMATION AND REVIVAL

REVIEW OF GALATIANS BY J.V. FESKO
LECTIO CONTINUA COMMENTARY SERIES
REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS

This series from REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS seeks to open up each book of the Bible by following the pattern of the early church by the method of the lectio continua or continual reading aloud and commenting upon the books of the Bible. Why is this so needed today? Dr. J. I. Packer has commented that revival happens when the Holy Spirit comes down and accompanies the Word of God with power and sovereignly applies it to the people of God. He laments that so little of the Word of God is present in evangelical churches today that the Holy Spirit has little to work with and show the churches. God the Holy Spirit works by and with the Word of God. He is not giving fresh revelation but illuminating the Word of God. When the Scriptures are withheld, the Spirit is grieved and quenched. Churches once read God’s Word aloud (passages from the Old and New Testaments), sang God’s Word (in the Psalter and Bible-based classic hymns), prayed the Scriptures (in biblically formed prayers) and then pastors exposited the Bible, explaining its meaning and applying it to the churchmen present. Packer believes this rarely happens today. And the churches are immensely poorer for it and the glory of God is diminished in today’s churches. We thank Reformation Heritage for this series which seeks the best of today’s expositors of the Word of God (theologically astute and spiritually sensitive preachers) opening up and applying the books of the Bible.

Dr. John Fesko pastored in north Atlanta for a decade before becoming Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California. I knew of many people who profited from his preaching and teaching as I was pastoring in south Atlanta at the time. People from his church were well taught as I interfaced with them. He has taken his pastoral and preaching orientation and put it in book form in this most helpful commentary on Galatians. Should I preach on Galatians anytime soon, this will be one of the first go-to books for me. In 22 chapters he shows and explains Paul’s word to the first century churches of Galatia that were in danger of losing the gospel or leaving the gospel behind for “new teaching” that would have taken them back to works righteousness and self-salvation. False teachers were luring the hearts and minds of the Galatian believers away from Paul and his gospel (which Paul shows is the only gospel). Paul did not receive his gospel from men nor did he make it up on his own but was given it by the risen Christ. Later when consulting with the apostles in Jerusalem, it was seen to be the case that Paul’s gospel was kosher and indeed the gospel of God.

Christian living flows out of Christian doctrine and believing. Fesko helps the reader to see the doctrinal foundations of Christianity in Galatians and thus its impact on Christian believing and Christian living. Some today want to downplay doctrine by saying that “doctrine divides”. In point of fact, error and heresy divide and doctrine often gets the bad rap for exposing the theological error or heresy. In our day people shy away from personal conflict and the discomfort of people being annoyed with us, Paul knew that the salvation as well as the happiness of the Galatian believers in Christ depended upon not losing the gospel truth--justification by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone revealed in the Scriptures alone. Martin Luther and the other great Protestant Reformers had Galatians (along with Romans) as one of the central pillars of Reformation truth. If Dr. J. I. Packer is right and we need a new Reformation in order to see a new Revival by the Spirit, Galatians again will play a major role. Master Galatians and this exposition by John Fesko. It is that important.

Steve Martin;
Dean of Students;
IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 01:06:49 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF J. I. PACKER'S "A PASSION FOR FAITHFULNESS: (NEHEMIAH)

09/22/2018

LEARNING TO LEAD FROM NEHEMIAH

In 1995, Dr Jim Packer published his exposition of the book of Nehemiah, titled A PASSION FOR FAITHFULNESS; Crossway Books. He says in the Prologue that he has preached and taught on this book more than any other book of the Bible. At collegiate and church conferences, at faculty retreats and leadership summits he has opened this book for God’s people believing it has so much to teach us today if we will listen. And he confesses early on that Nehemiah has helped him personally over the years in a variety of leadership situations—more than any other person except the Lord Jesus Christ! High praise indeed.

He ably defends this Old Testament leader’s example. He credits Nehemiah with being the most important man in the Old Testament in establishing the nation of Israel after the great Moses. I think he backs up his claims with more good lessons. Packer takes two tacks: how Nehemiah led the people and how the Lord led Nehemiah. He argues that Nehemiah is a churchman and in our day when the parachurch seems to have the money and manpower, he shows how wrong-headed such a non-church emphasis is.

Packer shows us Nehemiah’s strengths and supposed weaknesses. (Reader take note: not everything people do not like about leaders is wrong. Often the critics are wrong. They do not know what the leader knows. They do not have the obligations to faithfulness a biblical leader has.) Nehemiah’s strengths include zeal (what it is and is not), commitment (to persevere and finish a God-appointed task), and practical wisdom (the ability to make reasonable plans and get things done).

And Packer reveals to us the deep relationship that Nehemiah had with his God and how that worked itself out in his prayers. And his mental understanding of God is rich: (1) God is the sovereign, transcendent, self-sustaining, eternal Creator of heaven and earth; (2) God is Yahweh, the LORD, the covenant-making, covenant keeping, promise-fulfilling God of Israel; and (3) God’s words are true and trustworthy and the basis of our confidence. What form did his godliness take? (1) Nehemiah’s life was saturated with prayer. His public life was an outflow of his personal walk with God. (2) Nehemiah was one in solidarity with the Jewish nation—God’s people were his people. And (3) he had a sobriety about the powers entrusted to him. Power and its sometime synonym, authority, is the right to use force to compel obedience.

The chapter, CALLED TO SERVE, is a penetrating insight into what a calling from God involves and how one recognizes it. Men wondering about if they are called to the ministry ought to meditate upon this section. Clear about his call, Nehemiah proceeded with a confidence that was and is contagious.

Forty years ago, Dr. Howard Hendricks gave some lectures on leadership that have proved pivotal for my own understanding of how to occupy a position of leadership in God’s kingdom. Fundamentally, leadership has two components: (1) convictions—you know where you are to go; and (2) you can get others to walk with you and work with you. Like two wings of an airplane, you cannot have one without another. Take either away and the airplane or mission for God will crash. Packer’s exposition of Nehemiah has two chapters on how to manage people—getting going and keeping going. Nehemiah’s convictions flowed out of his relationship with God; Nehemiah’s relationships flowed out of his learning to lead men.

The chapter on “Tested for Destruction” is profoundly insightful in showing how spiritual attack comes with the territory of leadership and how a leader is to meet it head on. Packer says that “testing for destruction” is Satan’s everyday work. Nehemiah chapter 4 shows Satan doing all he can to bring a work of God to an inglorious end. He uses psychological warfare, physical threats and personal discouragement. Having failed there, Satan attacks Nehemiah directly in chapters 5-6: incrimination, intrigue, innuendo and intimidation. And Nehemiah perseveres by the grace of God and succeeds at what God called him to do.

I could readily say more but do not want to spoil the great things there are to learn in this most helpful study of a man of God and his work for God. I have read it and pondered it for almost 25 years and I am still learning from Nehemiah. If you read and study Nehemiah with Dr. Packer, you will too!

Pastors, take your officers through this book, take your wife through this book and prayerfully make this book part of the ballast of your life and ministry.

Posted: 05:04:59 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF T. J. CRAWFORD'S THE MYSTERIES OF CHRISTIANITY

06/26/2018

REVIEW OF T. J. CRAWFORD’S THE MYSTERIES OF CHRISTIANITY (Revealed Truths Expounded and Defended); Banner of Truth; 329 pages; hardback

Thomas John Crawford was a leading conservative pastor and theologian in 19th century Scotland. In 1874 he delivered the Baird Lectures and they were thought to be so helpful that they were published the same year. Crawford was anxious to address the rising tide
of unbelief in clerical garb—ministers who took their office but did not believe the supernatural truths or origin of classical Christianity. This book is comprised of eleven lectures on truths under attack and held up as irrational, superstitious or worse. That such doctrines
originated with God Himself was the fundamental denial of the revisionists.

Here are the lectures and what each seeks to address:

LECTURE 1—DOCTRINES WHICH ARE MYSTERIOUS
FROM LACK OF INTERNAL EVIDENCE

LECTURE 2—DOCTRINES WHICH ARE MYSTERIOUS
FROM THE TRANSCENDENT NATURE
OF THEIR SUBJECTS

LECTURE 3—DOCTRINES WHICH ARE MYSTERIOUS FROM THE LIMITED EXTENT OF THEIR
DISCLOSURES

LECTURE 4—DOCTRINES WHICH ARE MYSTERIOUS
FROM THEIR APPARENT INCONSISTENCY
WITH OTHER DOCTRINES

LECTURE 5—MYSTERY ARISING FROM THE INADEQUACY
OF HUMAN LANGUAGE TO EXPRESS
REVEALED TRUTH
--MYSTERY ARISING FROM THE INCAPACITY
OF FALLEN MEN TO DISCERN SPIRITUAL
THINGS

LECTURE 6—THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

LECTURE 7--THE UNION AND DIVINE NATURE IN THE
PERSON OF CHRIST

LECTURE 8—THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT

LECTURE 9—THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

LECTURE 10—THE PURPOSES OF GOD—THE DOCTRINE
STATED

LECTURE 11—THE PURPOSES OF GOD—THE DOCTRINE
VINDICATED

This book is a rarity—a profound book of theology working in apologetic ways. Professor Crawford was showing the biblical basis of Christianity as not something dreamed up by man but a religion of divine origin, not available to us except by divine revelation and illumination.

As Sinclair Ferguson tells us in the Introduction, this book will make us think and think hard about the supernatural nature and origin of Christianity and its teachings. As the back cover shows Deuteronomy 29:29 —“The secret things belong to God but the things
revealed belong to us and our children forever….”

Steve Martin (pastor in Atlanta for 31 years)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 04:01:28 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF JOHN OWEN'S DUTIES OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

REVIEW OF JOHN OWEN'S, DUTIES OF CHRISTIAN
FELLOWSHIP (A Manuel for Church Members);
Banner of Truth; 2017; 95 pages; paperback

By common consent, there was no greater Puritan theologian/pastor than John Owen. His 16 volumes of theology; his 7 volumes of close commentary on Hebrews and his one volume biblical theology are all magisterial—great, profound, comprehensive, biblical, etc. etc

Those who have tried to read Owen’s 17th century Latinized English knows it can be tough going.

Banner of Truth has done us great service by excerpting this material from volume 13 of his theological works, modernized, editing and adding study questions. In other words, here is Owen for 21st century church officers and laymen who read theology. Particularly this is Owen’s rich material on how the gospel should shape the way church members relate to their pastors and to one another.

If it was in my power, I would ask all church officers and especially all elders to read and master this book. I would use it as the basis of a Sunday School class on how the local church members are to function in fellowship with one another and their pastor.

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 03:12:56 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF IAIN MURRAY'S THE LIFE OF MARTYN LLOYD-JONES

REVIEW OF THE LIFE OF MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
By Iain Murray; BANNER OF TRUTH; 2013; 475 pages; paperback

This is the only book, besides the Bible, that I have read 12 times! Why, you say, would I want to do that?

Well, in 1984 as a young pastor I was given this book in its original format (2 volumes in hardback) for my edification and growth. Coming out of broad
Evangelicalism into seeing the so-called ‘doctrines of grace’, I still clung to the idea that men who knew God deeply and preached with power were long gone. Where were the men God was using and where were the men who knew God deeply?

Various types of contemporary theology tempted me to disregard the godly heritage of men whom God used since the Protestant Reformation. But seminary with its accompanying temptations to spiritual aridity prompted me to read the life of George Whitefield. I found an 18th century man who knew God deeply and preached with incredible power his whole life (from age 24 until he died at age 56). I read of 19th century giant Charles Spurgeon and saw another great man of God. But I was not convinced that men of God of a Reformed persuasion were being used by God in the 20th century.

After all, I was a 20th century parachurch whiz and we saw results. We were pragmatists. Whatever worked was right! Then I read of the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and I saw my foolish heart revealed. Dr. Lloyd-Jones (hereafter MLJ) left a prominent and promising medical practice in London to become the pastor of a church plant in a small town in Wales—with a 40% unemployment. The usual suspects—drunkenness, prostitution and gambling—were rife. The town was
solidly blue collar—coal miners, longshoremen and steel workers. MLJ wanted to go to a place where was no sociological reason for interest in the gospel other than the fact that God honored the preaching of the gospel of His Son.

He preached evangelistic sermons unlike so-called evangelistic sermons in America today.He reasoned with his hearers from the Scriptures, showing them the pride and foolishness of man’s solutions to his problems and the answers only found in Christ and His gospel. He saw
the first convert six months into his ministry and some two years later a mini-revival took place that shook the community and from which the ripples went out across Wales.

With students and fellow pastors I have demanded that they prayerfully read chapters 4-11. They the heart of the material covering MLJ’s pastorate in Wales. Church historian Carl Trueman said that all young pastors needed to read this material to truly grasp what they
should be about. Chapter 4 covers his conversion from an assumed Christianity to a real and living Christianity. Chapter 5 covers his call to the ministry while a doctor working for the famous Lord Horder, Doctor to the Queen of England. Isn’t a minister just a man with the gift of gab who can work up a message for Sunday and return to his regular job on Monday? Chapter 7 is a different kind of preaching. Most ministers preached to their people as if they were all converted and doing well. As a medical doctor, MLJ helped them diagnose and see
their true spiritual condition before the holy God. Chapter 9 shows a leader without a party.Evangelicalism was going in one direction but MLJ was going in another. Was he right? Was his diagnosis of the problems and the biblical solutions correct? Chapter 10 almost always makes me weep. It is about the mini-revival that came upon the church and the community.

What took me many reads to see was that the converts were not little girls in Sunday School. They were the hardest and from the church’s perspective the most lost people of the community. The town drunk, the palm reader, the hard man whose hobby was bare-knuckle
fighting at fairs (while in his 50’s). The church and the world had given up on these people and they had probably given up on themselves but then they heard about the preaching going on at the church. I will stop my ringing endorsement here for time's sake.

This paperback volume is a condensation of the magisterial two volume edition (400+.pages in volume one and 700+ pages in volume two). The two volume edition is still available but this one volume is just right in size and scope for most folks. The great material from
volume one is not shortened and MLJ’s critics are answered too. I give both this paperback edition and the two volume edition my highest approval.

And by the way, why did I read this 12 times? Because as a young pastor in 1984 and following, I did not know any other men who were doing what MLJ was obviously doing and had accomplished (he had gone to be with his Lord in 1981). I read and reread and reread the book to keep me on track and clear about where I was going and where I wanted to take my church God had entrusted to me.

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 02:54:06 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::


REVIEW OF REVELATION IN THE REFORMED EXPOSITORY SERIES

06/25/2018

REVIEW OF REVELATION (Reformed Expository Series) by Richard Phillips; P & R Publications; 2017; 755 pages

Dr. Phillips is Senior Pastor of 2nd Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC and Chairman Of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. He is Series Editor of the Reformed Expository Series and a noted author and conference speaker.

This is a great expository commentary by a seasoned preacher/theologian on one of the most abused books of the Bible. I say abused because every crackpot speaker and author has tried his/her hand at explaining the message of this book. Many interpretations would be comical if they were not so mistreating the Bible. The imaginative foolishness of the dispensational LEFT BEHIND SERIES, aping the earlier movie, THIEF IN THE NIGHT, with its ‘any moment ’rapture prophetical stance, has left many Christians confused, others disgusted and some wanting to right off Revelation as a means of God’s revelation to mankind. As of 6-26-18, AMAZON has over 100 pages of books about Revelation. Not books about Revelation but pages of books about Revelation. Do we really need one more?

Richard Phillips is no sensationalist; he is setting no prophetic timetable. He is not basing a parachurch ministry or publishing empire upon his novel interpretation. What he is doing is using the accepted hermeneutical tools of Bible interpretation and showing the reader what and why. If the preacher or student of Revelation wants solid content and not fluff, if
they want a biblical focus married to historical and cultural insights, this is the commentary for you. Pastor Phillips does not have a ‘party spirit’ where he only reads the works of men with whom he always agrees. In the Introduction he notes that he received encouragement and delight in reading premillennial and post-millenial authors. The bibliography at the end
of the book has over 200 entries that will whet the appetite of the pastor who wants to study and teach this book.

Do you want to understand the basic outline of Revelation? Do you want to be able to turn to its pages again and again for instruction, comfort and exhortation? Then read this commentary. Read it aloud to your spouse; read it aloud to your growing children. Show them the time-tested skill of reading edifying books aloud can be a real blessing to the whole family. Read it for your personal devotions. Read it with a sandwich at lunch. It will keep you on track and edified as you do.

Here is a brief outline from the TABLE OF CONTENTS:

PART 1—CHRIST AMONG THE LAMPSTANDS (Letters to the 7 Churches of Asia Minor)

PART 2—THE THRONE OF GOD AND THE SEVEN SEALS

PART 3—THE SEVEN TRUMPETS AS WARNINGS OF JUDGMENT

PART 4—THE SYMBOLIC HISTORIES

PART 5—THE SEVEN BOWLS OF GOD’S WRATH

PART 6—THE FINAL JUDGMENT AND VICTORY AT CHRIST’S RETURN

PART 7—THE GREAT CONSUMATION AND ETERNAL GLORY

Buy this exposition, read these sermons and be encouraged to love and trust the Lamb more!

Steve Martin (31 years a pastor in Atlanta)
Dean of Students; IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

Posted: 06:17:22 PM :: permalink :: discuss ::